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Suggested Citation:"BACKGROUND." National Research Council. 2001. Deferred Maintenance Reporting for Federal Facilities: Meeting the Requirements of Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board Standard Number 6, as Amended. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10095.
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INTRODUCTION 7 1 Introduction BACKGROUND The approximately 500,000 facilities and associated infrastructure owned by the federal government constitute a portfolio of significant durable public assets that reflect the investment of more than 300 billion tax dollars (NRC, 1998). Ownership of facilities by the federal government carries with it an obligation to act responsibly and to ensure that resources are allocated effectively to sustain that investment. Buildings, or facilities, are complex structures with a number of separate but interrelated components, including walls, roofs, windows/doors, and critical servicing systems such as mechanical, electrical, plumbing, heating, air conditioning, ventilation, communication, and fire safety, among others. Components and systems must perform well individually and in combination with others to optimize the performance of facilities. Inevitably, over time the performance of facilities declines due to aging and wear and tear of components and systems, functional changes, and a variety of other factors. The life of facilities can be optimized, however, through adequate and timely maintenance and repairs. Conversely, delaying or deferring maintenance and repairs can, in the short term, diminish the quality of building services and, in the long term, lead to shortened building life and reduced asset value (APWA, 1992). This concept is illustrated in Figure 1.1 . Deferring needed maintenance indefinitely may ultimately result in significantly higher costs. For example, the steel cladding on a warehouse needs to be painted at scheduled intervals. If the painting, a relatively minor cost, is deferred continually, the cladding will eventually rust and deteriorate, necessitating significant repairs or replacement, at many times the cost of having painted it on schedule. Apart from Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board (FASAB) Standard Number 6, as amended, deferred maintenance 1 has been defined by the Urban Institute (1994) as “the extent of maintenance, repair, rehabilitation, etc., that is needed to bring capital assets from a sub-par condition to needed service levels”. Generally it can be 1 Deferred maintenance is also known as unfunded maintenance, backlog of maintenance and repair, or unaccomplished maintenance.

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In 1996 the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board (FASAB) 1 enacted Standard Number 6, Accounting for Property, Plant, and Equipment (PP&E), the first government-wide initiative requiring federal agencies to report dollar amounts of deferred maintenance annually. The FASAB has identified four overall objectives in federal financial reporting: budgetary integrity, operating performance, stewardship, and systems and control. FASAB Standard Number 6, as amended, focuses on operating performance and stewardship. The FFC Standing Committee on Operations and Maintenance has prepared this report to identify potential issues that should be considered in any future amendments to the standard and to suggest approaches for resolving them. The committee's intent is to assist the CFO Council, federal agencies, the FASAB, and others as they consider how best to meet the objectives of federal financial reporting for facilities.

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